Ars poetica or research for „more
Poetry - its role and essence - is contimally
resumed in all Mi³osz’s work. Lat us have a closer look at
different aspects of this problem:
- A) Poetry in service of a
PREFACE (Treatise on Poetry)
First, plain speech in the mother
Hearing it, you should be able to see
Apple trees, a river, the bend of a road,
As if in a flash of summer lightning.
And it should contain more than images.
It has been lured by singsong,
A daydream, melody. Defenseless,
It was bypassed by the sharp, dry world.
You often ask yourself why you feel shame
Whenever you look through a book of poetry.
As if the author, for reasons unclear to you,
Addressed the worse side of your nature,
Pushing aside thought, cheating thought.
Seasoned with jokes, clowning, satire,
Poetry still knows how to please.
Then its excellence is much admired.
But the grave combats where life is at stake
Are fought in prose. It was not always so.
And our regret has remained unconfessed.
Novels and essays serve but will not last.
One clear stanza can take more weight
Than a whole wagon of elaborate prose.
In this piece of work the concept of moral poetry was
formulated, that is to say, poetry which creates and at
the same time saves values. Saving of nations and people
is possible only through indicating the Simplest values
but essential for spiritual nature of a man as well.
This search for values starts with the protest rejection
of violance, insensibility, evil (-> Look at „Campo
dei Fiori” ) and „You Who wronged” from volume
YOU WHO WRONGED (Daylight)
You who wronged a simple man
Bursting into laughter at the crime,
And kept a pack of fools around you
To mix good and evil, to blur the line,
Though everyone bowed down before you,
Saying virtue and wisdom lit your way,
Strrking gold medals in your honor,
Glad to have survived another day,
Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
You can kill one, but another is born.
The words are written down, the deed, the date.
And you'd have done better with a winter dawn,
A rope, and a branch bowed beneath your weight.
Washington, D.C., 1950
- B) Poetry helps to define
position in life „The purpose of poetry is to remind us
now difficult it is to remain just one person, for our
house is open, there are no keys in the doors, and
inuisible quests come in and out at will”
ARS POETICA? (City without Name)
I have always aspired to a more
that would be free from the claims of poetry or prose
and would let us understand each other without exposing
the author or reader to sublime agonies.
In the very essence of poetry there is something
a thing is brought forth which we didn't know we had in
so we blink our eyes, as if a tiger had sprung out
and stood in the light, lashing his tail.
That's why poetry is rightly said to be dictated by a
though it's an exaggeration to maintain that he must be
It's hard to guess where that pride of poets comes from,
when so often they're put to shame by the disclosure of
What reasonable man would like to be a city of demons,
who behave as if they were at home, speak in many
and who, not satisfied with stealing his lips or hand,
work at changing his destiny for their convenience?
It's true that what is morbid is highly valued today,
and so you may think that I am only joking
or that I've devised just one more means
of praising Art with the help of irony.
There was a time when only wise books were read,
helping us to bear our pain and misery.
This, after all, is not quite the same
as leafing through a thousand works fresh from
And yet the world is different from what it seems to be
and we are other than how we see ourselves in our
People therefore preserve silent integrity,
thus earning the respect of their relatives and
The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficult it is to remain just one person,
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
and invisible guests come in and out at will.
What I'm saying here is not, I agree, poetry,
as poems should be written rarely and reluctantly,
under unbearable duress and only with the hope
that good spirits, not evil ones, choose us for their
translated by Czeslaw Milosz
and Lillian Vallee
- C) Elaborating on the art
of poetry „Ars poetica” The title of the poem referc
to ancient times, because sude were termed the treatises
on poetry, explainig rules and norms it was supposed to
put into practice. The question mask included in the
title suggests a kind of hesitation: is it possible to
establish any rules for the art of poetry ? Here, Mi³osz
looks for a „more receptive form”, tries to cross the
borolers between poetry and so called „non-poetry”.
He also creates new hierarchy of poetical values:
understanding between the author and the reder, because
it guarantees the possibility of transmission of
important messages; the ones „helping us to bear our
pain and misery” One more thought also appearrs here
that poetry can be in service o both, good and creazy
artis also present here . One may assume that according
to Milosz it is abnormal to resign completely to
different order stimula and imagination, with whitch the
gradual disappearance of consciousness is connected, and,
as a result, the loss of contact with reality and
drivelling take place. Such an art does not bring relief
in pain. In the poem „No More” the question „Who is
it - a poet ?” is brought under discussion.
MORE(King Popiel and Other Poems)
I should relate sometime how I
My views on poetry, and how it came to be
That I consider myself today one of the many
Merchants and artisans of Old Japan,
Who arranged verses about cherry blossoms,
Chrysanthemums and the full moon.
If only I could describe the courtesans of Venice
As in a loggia they teased a peacock with a twig,
And out of brocade, the pearls of their belt)
Set free heavy breasts and the reddish weal
Where the buttoned dress marked the
As vividly as seen by the skipper of galleons
Who landed that morning with a cargo of gold;
And if I could find for their miserable bones
In a graveyard whose gates are licked by greasy water
A word more enduring than their last-used comb
That in the rot under tombstones, alone, awaits the
Then I wouldn't doubt. Out of reluctant matter
What can be gathered? Nothing, beauty at best.
And so, cherry blossoms must suffice for us
And chrysanthemums and the full moon.
translated by Anthony Milosz
„No more” Here the reflection
appears: a poet, out of an artist, becoues a craftsman. A
questin is asked: „ how did it happen ?”, „what is
the vocation of a poet ?” It seems that for the lyrical
subject the value of poetry is situated somewhere behind
the aesthetical categories. And the poet has to
constantly fight with the stubborn words.
SO LITTLE (From the Rising
of the Sun)
I said so little.
Days were short.
I said so little.
I couldn't keep up.
My heart grew weary
The jaws of Leviathan
Were closing upon me.
Naked, I lay on the shores
Of desert islands.
The white whale of the world
Hauled me down to its pit.
And now I don't know
What in all that was real.
translated by Czeslaw Milost
and Lillian Vallec
In the poem one can notice the analysis
of chances a human being has while realizy his or her
wishes and ambitions. The datum here is the biography of